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home : insight & opinion : editorials
June 16, 2019

1/19/2004 4:41:00 PM
A little 'sprawl' is a good thing

It’s good to see Robinson officials dealing with an issue that’s probably become obvious even those who are not life-long residents of the area.

While “sprawl” is the buzzword when other cities talk about their problems, our city fathers wish they had a little sprawl of their own.

And for good reason. Apart from individual houses being built in random areas of town — which is still a good thing — the last significant “housing development” within Robinson city limits is nearly 10 years old.

You don’t have to travel too far to see that in the same 10 years, cities not much larger that Robinson have seen a boom in residential construction.

Moreover, if you take a longer view — and a quick drive around town — you can see how many houses were built between, say, 1950 and 1980 — Robinson’s last really prosperous era. And you can see how many have been built since then.

What’s the difference? Well, jobs, for one thing. While we’re grateful for the new jobs that have been created here in recent years, they haven’t translated into a need for large numbers of new single-family homes.

And geography is another thing. Robinson is not really a “bedroom community” for anywhere. When the Terre Haute economy picked up, Marshall and Brazil reaped benefits. When Toyota picked a cornfield in Gibson County, Ind., for a new plant, anyone who travels U.S. 41 can see what it meant for Princeton and other nearby communities. We can’t count on the same kind of help.

The new residential development that has happened, has been in rural areas around Robinson. So city officials are apparently wising up to the fact that they may need to take some pro-active steps to attract the same kind of development in or next to the city limits.

Here’s hoping the decision-makers take the care and time to do it right. Focusing on infrastructure, like sewers and streets, is a good first step — but we need to be careful about “relaxing” standards just to attract development. The city has had to spend enough on fixing sub-standard subdivision streets in recent years.

While there will always be resistance to moves such as development and annexation, and controversy over zoning issues, it comes down to what we want our city to look like — to us and those we want to join us — in the future.

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